Thornley Fallis is partnering with Gini Dietrich and Arment Dietrich

Today is a big day for me and the team at Thornley Fallis. We announced a partnership with Gini Dietrich and her team at Arment Dietrich.

I’ve known and collaborated with Gini Dietrich for over two years. Every week, we’ve come together to co-host the Inside PR podcast with Martin Waxman (Martin joined Thornley Fallis in 2011). We’ve attended conferences together. Developed ideas together. Shared insight into the direction and opportunities for each of our businesses. We’ve talked extensively about the changes in the communications business brought about by the social media revolution. And we’ve discovered that we share a similar vision for the future of communications: the continuing revolution of the relationship between consumers and companies, citizens and governments, you and me.

During that time, we’ve transformed our companies from traditional communications consulting organizations to focus on the expertise that is most important in the connected era, the time when we all have voices, can find and share with our communities of interest, and in which we become both the media and the trusted advisors to one another.

Gini has positioned Arment Dietrich as a thought leader in social and digital media. She has built an industry leading platform for these views in Spin Sucks, her widely-read blog. And she adding to that Spin Sucks Pro (in Beta), a resource for senior business executives who want to understand and participate in the new media. In the process, Gini has become an acknowledged expert in content marketing. She’s used it to build her own company and she uses that same expertise for her clients. She also found the time to capture her ideas in Marketing in the Round, the just-published book she co-authored with Geoff Livingston.

Thornley Fallis also has come a long way since its founding in 1995 as a traditional corporate PR company. Today, we are focused on the expertise necessary to engage with the public through traditional and digital media. We offer design to deliver remarkable experiences, produce video to create the ultimate social objects, build audiences and communities through content marketing, earn media through public relations, and build relationships and trust through social media. But these tactics must work together. So we develop strategies to marshall them into a coherent whole and then constantly measure and refine.

Given all this, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we’ve decided to bring our firms together so that we can offer our collective expertise to our clients.

That’s a big move. And it promises a much brighter future for our teams. New combinations of expertise. New clients. New opportunities. I’ll continue to write about my journey and experiences on this blog and we’ll also share our collective insight on the Thornley Fallis Blog and Spin Sucks. I hope you’ll join us for the journey.


Will you volunteer to mentor students about their online personal brand?

When we participate in social media – whether posting or commenting – we are leaving digital footprints. And as people follow those footprints, they assemble a picture in their minds of the person who left those footprints – what we are interested in, our thoughts and opinions, the way we communicate and interact with other people. These factors and many more can be assembled to paint a portrait of each of us. In effect, they amount to our personal brand.

Michael Cayley, who teaches Social Media at Humber College, is organizing a Personal Brand Camp in Toronto on Feb. 23. Through a series of rotating round tables, attendees will have the opportunity to talk about the issues surrounding the care and feeding of their online personal brands with Mentors drawn from Toronto’s social media community.

Michael is looking for 20 Mentors who will lead roundtable discussions with the participants. The best Mentor is someone who is active online and has developed an online presence that is positive and well-regarded. You may be young. You may be old. But whichever, you’ve created a positive halo around yourself.

If you’d be interested in volunteering to be a Mentor at Personal Brand Camp, please contact @michaelcayley on Twitter.

Participate in #JournchatLIVETO

#journchat#Journchat is a Twitter discussion held on Monday evenings intended to give PR people, bloggers and journalists a time to discuss issues of common concern.

A few weeks back, Jodi Echakowitz suggested a couple ways that #Journchat could be made better. Sarah Evans, the organizer of #Journchat, has taken up Jodi’s suggestion of live meetups across the U.S. and Canada during next week’s #Journchat discussion to give participants an opportunity to connect in person.

Jodi is organizing the #JournchatLIVETO meetup on the evening of August 17. And I’m happy that Thornley Fallis is able to help out by hosting the live gathering of participants in our Toronto office boardroom.

  • What: JournchatLIVETO
  • When: Monday, August 17, 6:30PM to 10PM
  • Where: Thornley Fallis, 21 St. Clair Ave East, Suite 800, Toronto
  • Organized by: Jodi Echakowitz

If you want to attend in person, you’ll need to register to attend #JournchatLiveTO.

But even if you don’t want to attend in person, you can still participate in the discussion on Twitter between 7:30PM and 10PM Monday. To do so, simply set up a Twitter search for the hashtag #journchat and then include #journchat in your own tweets

I’m looking forward to meeting the other people who choose to participate in person at the #journchatLIVETO event. It should be a good discussion.


Interested in more info on #Journchat?

Why Communicators Must Give a Twit: IABC Golden Horseshoe PD Event


I’ll be speaking about social media next Tuesday morning at a professional development event organized by the IABC Golden Horseshoe Chapter. The Golden Horseshoe Chapter is the newest IABC chapter in Ontario. So, it should be a good opportunity for communicators from Hamilton, Halton, the Niagara Region,  Haldimand-Norfolk and Brant County to meet one another and get a sense of the benefits of an active IABC Chapter.

I’ve been asked to present a hands on demonstration of social media tools. The room will have a WiFi connection and I plan to show people how to set up persistent searches using Google Blog Search and Twitter search. I’ll also show everyone how I use Radian6 to track references to Thornley Fallis and issues relevant to us. I’ll make sure that everyone is set up with a working Twitter account, iGoogle profile and subscriptions to RSS feeds in Google Reader. That’s the nuts and bolts.

Of course, I’ll also talk about how social media should be introduced into an organization only if the culture is ready for it and if the leadership understands that the organization will be served only if the community first is served.

If you are in the Hamilton-Niagara region next Tuesday morning and want to talk about social media, why not join us at the IABC Golden Horseshoe Social Media PD Event. You can find the details on the IABC Golden Horseshoe Website and register at EventBrite to attend.

I hope to see you there.

If you're in Calgary or Edmonton, let's talk social media

mriaWhen I return to Canada from Australia next week, I’m heading to Alberta to make two presentations on social media at the University of Calgary on March 4 and then at the University of Alberta in Edmonton on March 5.

The sessions are being hosted by the Alberta Chapter of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association. It’s their first foray onto university campuses. So, I’m really keen to do a good job for them.

The MRIA Website describes the session this way:

Social media has become an important fact of life for a growing number of Canadians. As its use increases, it has far reaching impact on our choice of media and how we spend our time. People no longer serve as mute audiences, but now engage in the act of creation, sharing and curating content. In the process, new communities of interest are forming that transcend geographical boundaries.

Social media is different from the early Web. It’s about relationships. It’s about community. It’s about the things that happen offsite – the linkbacks, the retweets, the references to our content, and the online (and offline) communities that are formed. How can organizations know what they want to achieve in social media and what are the emerging tools they can use to measure success against those criteria.

Join us for our next Lunch and Learn event on what social media is, how its read/write nature fulfills the potential of the Web, and how different people use it in different ways (for example; lurkers, critics, joiners, creators, etc.)

If you’re in Alberta and you’re interested in social media, you can register online to attend either the Calgary or the Edmonton sessions. And if you read this blog and attend the session, please do say hello to me. I always welcome a smile and a human connection.

Who would you like to hear talk about what they are doing in social media / Web 2.0?

Who would you like to hear speak at a Third Tuesday social media meetup or the Social Media Breakfast?

Third TuesdayThe volunteers organizing the Ottawa Third Tuesday and Toronto Third Tuesday and Social Media Breakfast are reaching out to our contacts to in order to put together this season’s program. We’re looking for speakers who

  • have something unique and thought provoking to say about social media;
  • are developing social Web apps; or
  • have applied it to community building, communication, public relations or marketing.

Of course, the quality of an event series is driven by the participation of the people who attend. So, we want to invite speakers who you you want to hear address the topics that you find interesting.

We’ve had some great speakers in the past, including: Shel Israel, Shel Holtz, Richard Binhammer, Mathew Ingram, Michael Geist, Mark Evans, Colin McKay, Anthony Williams, Rob Hyndman, Michael McDerment, Saul Colt, Katie Paine, Marcel LeBrun, Stephen Taylor, Paul Wells, Marshall Sponder, Mitch Joel, Alex and Ali de Bold, Darren Barefoot, Jesse Brown, Brendan Hodgson, Giovanni Rodriguez, Danielle Donders, Ryan Anderson, Marc Snyder, David Jones, Terry Fallis, Julie Rusciolelli, Keith McArthur and Martin Waxman.

We’ve established a tradition of great speakers and strong participation from attendees. Please help us to continue in this way. Let us know who you’d like to hear from and what topics you’d like to have addressed.

IABC World Conference rescheduling is a disservice to Canadian IABC members

Here’s an unfortunate situation. The International Association of Business Communicators has rescheduled its annual World Conference to the same weekend as Canadian Public Relations Society National Conference.

The CPRS announced some time back that the 2009 CPRS National Conference will be held in Vancouver June 7-9, 2009. Now, I’ve received word in the IABC’s member newsletter that the IABC World Conference has been rescheduled to overlapping dates, June 7-10, in San Francisco.

Canadian Public Relations SocietyLike many Canadians, I belong to both the IABC and the CPRS. The principal benefit I receive from these associations is the opportunity to attend their professional development conferences. By attending these conferences, not only do I have a chance to keep abreast of the latest thinking about communications, but I also have a chance to meet and discuss these ideas with other communication professionals from across Canada and North America.

Scheduling these conferences to occur on the same weekend is a terrible waste of resouces and potential.

In this case, it appears to me that the party responsible for this conflict is the IABC, which changed its conference date. Now, some might say that this doesn’t matter. They may see IABC as primarily a US-based organization. But to those, take a look at the number of active IABC chapters in Canada, including the largest IABC Chapter in the world, Toronto.

So, here’s my call to the leaders of the IABC: Serve your members better. Coordinate your conference dates with the CPRS so that your Canadian members can have the opportunity to participate in all of the professional development conferences that you offer.


I wasn’t alone in my annoyance at IABC’s move. PRWeek reports that “Derrick Pieters, director of communications, Department of Justice Canada, Prairie Region and the North in Edmonton, and CPRS president, said they were surprised, and not initially warned, of the date change. “It is unfortunate there is a conflict, but it was just an unfortunate set of circumstances as to how it happened,” Pieters commented. The article quoted me as saying that “the IABC, as the bigger, international organization, has ‘not played nice in Canada.'”

What social media topics do you want to hear about at the conferences you attend this year?

I try never to give the same presentation twice. The real world of social media is changing and developing rapidly. And my presentations should reflect those changes. So, what was new last year may be old this year.

If you’re like me, I’m sure that you scrutinize conference agendas closely so that you can pick the topics and sessions that will offer you the greatest opportunity to learn about and discuss issues that matter to you.

I should be shaping my conference presentations to cover the issues that interest the participants. So, I thought I’d ask you, the readers of my blog, what social media topics you’d like to hear about at the conferences you attend this year.

To prime the discussion, here’s a topic for a presentation that I submitted to a conference organizer earlier this week:

Measuring Social Media : Social media gives individuals the power to switch instantly from reader to author. And this has transformed the Internet into a web of communities of interest. Organizations are changing their communications to be part of the communities that matter to their customers, clients and stakeholders. But how do they measure what they are achieving through this effort?

In this session you will learn:

What to measure in social media;

What tools will help you measure social media;

The basic building blocks of a measurement dashboard for community managers.

Would you find a session on this topic useful?

What are the social media topics that you would to hear about at the next conference you attend?

Centre for Excellence in Communications Workshop on Social Media

On June 27, I’m offering a workshop in Best Practices in Social Media at the Centre for Excellence in Communications . It’s tailored to the interests and concerns of government, not-for-profits and associations.

If you’re interested in a solid introduction to social media, the way that people are using them and how organizations can successfully make social media part of the way that you relate to the people who care about you, then you’ll find what you’re looking for at this workshop.

As I write this, there are five places left for this session. If you want to attend, you can register online at the CEC’s Website.

The new face of public relations

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I believe that social media is a game changer for public relations.

It forces public relations people to come out from behind the curtain. No longer can we be the "unnamed source" who talks "on background."

We now are in a world in which the traditional news cycle has been replaced by a constant flow of breaking news and immediate commentary. We must start to monitor conversations well before we ever wish to enter them in order to find where people are talking, listen to what they are talking about, identify the new influencers, and understand their point of view.

And then, when we have done this, we join the conversations where they are occurring. This helps us to build credibility and trust among those who are already engaged in the issues of importance to us.

And all of that occurs before the words "corporate blog" are ever spoken.

Social media demands transparency and authenticity. That means that we must be front and centre as individuals when we are playing the role of spokesperson for our organization. If you want an example of what I’m talking about, take a look at RichardatDell . Richard Binhammer has been one of Dell’s most high profile people in the blogosphere since mid-2006. He is part of the conversation through his personal blog , direct outreach to bloggers , Twitter and real world presentations . And he does this with transparency and authenticity. The corporate spokesperson becomes a real person – and our trust increases because of this.

And that’s the template for the new PR practitioner.

And I’m not alone in my view. It was encouraging to read other industry leaders underline the importance of social media during a recent roundtable discussion organized by PR Week (April 14, 2008, p.12). A couple of statements that caught my attention:

"Traditional PR is getting completely redefined. I won’t say it’s dying, but I think people need to get with what’s on the cutting edge, in terms of building communities and starting conversations – as opposed to that traditional one-way dialogue." Karen Kahn, Vice President, Global Communications, Sun Microsystems.

"The bigger evolution in our job is not learning about social media and digital. It’s about changing from a [text] storyteller to a visual storyteller. I think as PR pros we always related to the written word, and these new Web 2.0 applications relate to being more visual…" Luca Penati, Managing Director of the global tech practice, Ogilvy PR.

Things to think about when you’re planning your own career and growth path.

UPDATE: Shel Israel posted this video interview with Richard Binhammer on Global Neighbourhoods TV shortly after I posted. It’s worth looking at for an illustration of the "up front" PR person. There’s very little (if any) "corporate speak" on Richard’s side. Just a PR person speaking in plain language about what he believes about his company.